A 27-year-old Greenfield man could spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his mother last fall after they had a fight about chores.
Joshua McWain, of 370 Daniels Road, who pleaded guilty in August to second-degree murder, was sentenced Friday in Saratoga County Court by Judge Jerry J. Scarano to a term of 19 years to life in state prison.
McWain’s mother, 59-year-old Carol L. Stanford, was reported missing by neighbors Oct. 30, which prompted Saratoga County sheriff’s deputies to check on her at the trailer the two shared. Law enforcement officials testified in May that when deputies went to the home, McWain confessed to hitting her in the head with a floor buffer because he was angry that she told him to do chores. After she died, he wrapped her body in a sleeping bag and buried her in a root cellar under the shed, authorities said.
Over the next few days, he visited the makeshift grave several times, authorities said, adding items to it, including a “world’s greatest mother” statue.
Stanford died of blunt force trauma to the head and excessive bleeding.
The sentence was approved by Stanford’s daughter, who lives in Corinth. In a victim’s statement read into the record during the sentencing Friday afternoon, she described the horror she felt after learning what her brother had done.
Saratoga County Public Defender Oscar Schreiber, who represented McWain, previously said his client pleaded guilty so he wouldn’t have to risk a more serious sentence. The maximum sentence would have been 25 years to life.
As part of the plea deal in August, prosecutors also dropped an evidence-tampering charge related to the way his mother’s body was stashed.
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said in a statement that he was pleased with the sentence because it held McWain responsible for his actions. “This has been a tragic case from the beginning, as a minor domestic argument led to such a horrific outcome,” he said. “I commend the work of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, who did a very thorough and professional job to bring this defendant to justice and bring a sense of peace to the victim’s family.”
Prior to his plea agreement, McWain had been deemed fit to stand trial by two psychiatrists, who both felt he understood the charges against him.
McWain’s legal troubles also include a breach of his probation in a previous petty larceny conviction. He pleaded guilty this summer to the violation and agreed to pay $4,800 restitution to a man in connection with that case.
Assistant District Attorney Daniel J. Kopach and First Assistant District Attorney Karen A. Heggen prosecuted the murder case.